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What Is Kefir?

Kefir is a cultured fermented milk drink, traditionally made with goats milk and living kefir ‘grains’ which are combinations of living good gut bacteria and yeast. You can’t manufacture a kefir grain – grains only grow from other grains. No one knows where the first kefir grain came from – it’s a mystery for the ages!

The first drinking kefir was made by the inhabitants of the Black Caucasus Mountains in Russia, thousands of years ago. They became so well-known for their long and healthy lives that the Russian government sent an armed party into the mountains to bring ten pounds of the kefir grains back, as the mountain folk were disinclined to share. All real kefir grains today descend from those original Russian grains.

In 1908 scientist Elie Metchnikoff, known as ‘the father of natural immunity’ won a Nobel prize for his work with kefir. Fast-forwarding to modern-day, in 2017 Dr. Michael Moseley performed the first NHS humans trials with kefir on the BBC 2 television show ‘Trust Me I’m a Doctor,’. The study involved 30 volunteers, split into three groups, who drank either a probiotic drink, a fermented drink or ate a prebiotic diet. Measured across four weeks, the study revealed that kefir was the most powerful of all probiotic foods available today for gut health.

Read more about the benefits of kefir here.

What does kefir taste like?

Kefir tastes and smells tart and tangy, and is compared to tasting like ‘fizzy feta.’ A fermented food, kefir is like natural yoghurt; you can smell the fermentation when you inhale – sharp and fresh! The active ingredient in the kefir producing the taste is butyric acid, which is that beneficial for your immune system you can purchase it as a food supplement. Butyric acid creates the flavour in parmesan cheese, so that will give you an idea of the sharpness of the flavour.

On the farm we like to drink our kefir straight and well-aged – the stronger the better. We say it’s not good kefir unless it makes you whoop and holler after you drink it! But if you’re a newbie and you’re struggling with the taste, you can blend it up with fresh fruit and 100% pure stevia to make it more palatable. Just make sure to drink it immediately, as the fructose will degrade the live cultures over time.

Which kind of kefir is best?

The best (and most beneficial) kefir is made with goats milk, as it’s non-allergenic, is easily tolerated by most people and is considered a functional food by scientists. Animal milk is the most powerful base for probiotics, however, cow’s milk is highly allergenic for human beings, and is a known trigger for eczema and other autoimmune conditions, so goats milk is preferable as a base.

When you’re buying kefir, look out for goat’s milk kefir which is completely pure, natural and unsweetened, avoiding varieties made with added sugar or other flavourings. These flavourings or sweeteners degrade the good gut bacteria in the kefir over time, much as they harm the healthy bacteria inside your gut.

Embrace the tartness! That’s how you know it’s the best kind of kefir. If it doesn’t say made with real kefir grains on the label, it probably isn’t.

What live bacterial strains are in goat’s milk kefir?

Tested at Aberystwyth University by IBERS head Prof. Jamie Newbold, our kefir contains the following live bacterial strains listed below:

  • Lactobacillus kefiranofaciens strain ATCC 43761
  • Lactobacillus kefiri gene for 16S rRNA, partial sequence, strain: NRIC 0586
  • Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis strain Lor-MGB-YQ-2(1)
  • Leuconostoc garlicum strain B/C-2
  • Leuconostoc lactis gene for 16S rRNA, partial sequence, strain: ZU 9
  • Ascomycota Saccharomycetes Saccharomycetales Saccharomycetaceae Saccharomyces exiguus
  • Ascomycota Saccharomycetes Saccharomycetales Saccharomycetaceae Kluyveromyces lactis
  • Ascomycota Pezizomycetes Pezizales Ascobolaceae Saccobolus
  • Ascomycota Saccharomycetes Saccharomycetales Saccharomycetaceae Pichia fermentans (T)

We are proud to be the only kefir producers in the UK to work closely with a university laboratory*.

*Please note that Chuckling Goat kefir is specifically named in the publication and that Director, Shann Jones, is listed as a co-author on the article.

What does kefir look like?

The living kefir ‘grains’ themselves look like small, squashy cauliflowers. They are ‘fed’ with the milk and left at room temperature until the kefir reaches the appropriate pH levels. At this point, the kefir thickens to the consistency of single cream.

Over time, the kefir will continue to ferment in the bottle, becoming thicker over time. The milk proteins will clump together during the fermentation process; essentially, the kefir is turning itself into curds and whey. This is not a problem for consumption; you can simply blend to resolve any grainy-ness or clumping.

How long does goats milk kefir last?

Kefir never goes off – it continues to ferment inside the bottle, becoming stronger in taste and potency over time. We put a 90-day “best before” date on our kefir only because most people prefer it at the milder end of the taste spectrum.

If you find that you are experiencing any detox symptoms while taking your daily 170 ml, you may need to cut back to 1 TBSP daily for a week, then increase slowly over time. If you slow your kefir consumption in this fashion, you can pop your extra bottles in the freezer. This essentially puts the kefir to sleep, and pauses the fermentation process, although it doesn’t harm the good bacteria in the kefir. When you thaw the kefir it will be grainy, as the milk proteins clump together. Simply shake or blend to resolve this.

Is kefir lactose-free?

Our kefir is 100% lactose-free, as all the lactose is consumed during the fermentation process. For this reason, it is the only dairy food that may be consumed by many lactose-intolerant people and is a great choice for getting calcium into your diet. It is also gluten-free and free of any added sugar, salt, chemicals or flavourings of any kind.

Nutritional factors of goats milk kefir

 

References

  1. Various - "Kefir". Published by Wikipedia on August 20, 2019.
    link to articlehttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kefir
  2. Dr Michael Mosley - "BBC Trust Me I’m a Doctor, What are fermented foods and which are best for improving our gut health? ". Published by BBC on January 30, 2017.
    link to articlehttps://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/2K91Yns068jFYVGxxbTnyvh/what-are-fermented-foods-and-which-are-best-for-improving-our-gut-health
  3. Załęski A, Banaszkiewicz A, Walkowiak J. - "Butyric acid in irritable bowel syndrome". Published by National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine on December 30, 2013.
    link to articlehttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4027835/
  4. ScienceDaily - "Goat milk can be considered as functional food, Spanish researchers find". Published by University of Granada on May 19, 2011.
    link to articlewww.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110518092146.htm
  5. de la Fuente G, Jones E, Jones S, Newbold CJ - "Functional Resilience and Response to a Dietary Additive (Kefir) in Models of Foregut and Hindgut Microbial Fermentation In Vitro". Published by Frontiers on June 28, 2017.
    link to articlehttps://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmicb.2017.01194/full